Wothorpe Road

Ground No. 239
Visited - Saturday 19th November 2011
Result - Stamford 4-1 Romulus
Competition - Northern Premier League, Division One South
Attendance - 220

"M1 Junctions 25-26 closed" This was going to be a review of Guiseley's Nethermoor Park, hopefully with a few pictures of Bradford Park Avenue's former home thrown in for good measure, but after meeting up with Duncan from the Football Ground Guide and heading out onto the M42 then the news from the matrix signs wasn't good, even with it having only just gone 9:30am. A quick debate about what to do ended up with abandoning the plans for Yorkshire and instead settling on a trip to Lincolnshire, destination Stamford.

Nestled on the River Welland, the town is renowned as being one of the most picturesque in England, holding the honour of having been designated as the first conservation area in the country in 1967. After arriving, you can see why. As a small market town, the obvious comparison would be Stratford, although it reminded me more of Oxford with the 17th-18th century stonework that makes up most of the buildings in the centre, five church spires/towers dominating the skyline. The town's most famous resident was Daniel Lambert, born in 1770, he's known for being Britain's heaviest man, weighing in at a hefty 52 stone, 11 pounds. It's him who the football club take their nickname from, calling themselves 'The Daniels'. They were founded in 1896, although can trace their history back to the 1870's, with various clubs in the town taking up the sport, before two of the most prominent teams, Stamford Town and Rutland Ironworks merged in 1894, carrying on the latter's title, before switching to the formers name two years later.

Wothorpe Road, or Handson's Field as it was known, has been their home since this date, having a claim as one of the oldest grounds in the country, with the game having been played here since the 1870's. Sited on one of the main roads into the town, as with many grounds, it's the floodlights that you notice first of all, however despite spotting them, you have to look twice, with the club having had to sand blast them to fit into the town’s architectural style, no steel pylons allowed here! Still, it adds character, and after a brief look we headed into the centre for a walk around.

Before we’d arrived though, with the trip to Bradford off, it left us with a bit more time than we’d planned, so on the way here we'd made a slight detour via firstly Coventry to see the new Jimmy Hill statue at the Ricoh Arena, the former Match of the Day pundit and ex-city manager standing proudly outside the club shop, and from there we headed into Northamptonshire to see Kettering's new home at Nene Park, before finally making Stamford at just gone midday. We headed first to the Green Man, as known for its real ales as the town is for its architecture before on to both the Jolly Brewer and Lord Burghley, time eventually catching up before having to make our way back to the ground. From the outside, there isn't a great deal to see, a small car park with the turnstiles at the rear of the of the Main Stand and a sign proudly proclaiming that the ground is no longer known by its traditional name, but instead is the Premier Kitchen's Arena. Somehow this didn't get the same amount of press coverage as Newcastle's recent renaming of St James' Park!

Inside, once through the turnstiles you come in right in the middle of two stands, which together with their roofs having being joined makes up the Main Stand, one half of which dates back to the early 1900's, with the extension having been added in the 1970's, the roofline, whilst quite uneven is integrated enough to make it difficult to notice that it isn't one complete stand. At the near end is hard standing, with a small grassed area behind, before a small terrace is on the far side, running half the length of the pitch. Apparently it did once extend the whole length, but was partly demolished for safety reasons, the passing trains from the line that runs directly right behind perhaps shaking it too much! At the far end is more hard standing, with one step of terracing to give a slightly elevated view, before in the corner are the toilets, a second unused turnstile block and the clubshop which has as good a selection of badges and merchandise as any at this level (better than half the League 2 clubs in fact). Finally, in the corner of the near side, running back up to the Main Stand sits a good sized clubhouse, which after a walk around, we retreated to ready for the game to begin.

Romulus were the visitors today, travelling the same route as us from Birmingham as opposed the far side of the galaxy that their name might suggest. I'd seen them not so long before, only a couple of months previously, losing a close game to Bridgnorth in the FA Cup, and sitting 15th in the league then it was the hosts who you had to fancy, with the Daniels only three points off the top of the table. Unsurprisingly then, it was Stamford who made the most of the opening exchanges and took a deserved lead in the 17th minute courtesy of Jake Barnett, who headed home a good cross into the box from the left. Despite looking good, their advantage didn't last long though, and the visitors were level again just four minutes later after a mix-up in the home defence. Goalkeeper Mario Ziccardi was caught off his line when the ball came out to quick thinking Mitchell McPike, who lobbed it over him from distance, the defenders almost entranced watching it drop into the net for the equaliser. After that, the remainder of the first half was largely even, the home side looking slightly stronger, which in the second half they really pressed home, taking the lead again on the hour mark thanks to Nick Ghislanzoni who headed home for 2-1. Romulus, whilst still creating chances were starting to look tired and they succumbed seven minutes from time when Bruno Holden got the third, turning home a cracking effort that had rebounded off the bar, before they wrapped it up late on in injury time with Ghislanzoni getting his second of the afternoon to make the final score 4-1 to the home side. It was harsh on the visiting Romulans, who had given a decent account of themselves, but in the form of a good Stamford side they had met their match and the result, if not the scoreline, wasn't one they could have too many complaints about.

After leaving, we made our way back with no problems, the journey passing by quickly, happy to have chosen this game instead of taking the risk of tailbacks on the M1 as could have been. The ground itself is full of character, although it’s perhaps best viewed from standing at the clubhouse end, where the backdrop of the Stamford skyline sets it apart from other grounds at this level, the other end not giving quite the same effect with it’s corrugated metal fence instead of church spires!


The Jimmy Hill Statue, Coventry

Jimmy Hill wearing a cravat

Nene Park, Rushden & Diamonds Kettering Town

Nene Park

Welcome to Wothorpe Road


St James' Park, Newcastle United

The Turnstiles

The Main Stand

The Main Stand

The Near End

The Main Stand

Looking across the Near End

The Far Side

Tea Hatch


The Far End

Looking across the Far End

Church Spires/Tower in the background

The Club Shop

The Clubhouse

Ready for Kick Off

The Near Side

The Main Stand

The Far Side

The Near Side

The Far Side

The Far End


Wothorpe Road Panoramic 1
(click here for full size picture)

Wothorpe Road Panoramic 2
(click here for full size picture)

1 comment:

  1. You are right it looks like Jimmy Hill in the bakc of the statue. We have someone similar at pay per head bookmaking community.